BigMex's Observations

Weekday rants and reviews of videogames, comics, movies, skateboarding, art, urban vinyl and even playground basketball.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tabletop Gaming: Final Part

So what does the future hold for tabletop gaming? I'll take some guesses and share some thoughts today on the final blog in my series.

It's obvious to say that new systems will come and go, in a variety of genres with plenty of great art, fantastic miniatures and ideas. We can also expect for there to be a new round of licenses from the console and PC publishers. MMO's are very popular and it makes sense to translate a world that has already been created into a videogame. Game Workshop already has a Warhammer MMO out and a 40k one is on the horizon. Blizzard might or might not have a StarCraft version to compete when that happens. If and when Rackham has a videogame based on Ragnarok the world should take notice. Will Sony finally wise up and license AT-43 in favor of another Killzone? Both are made by the French after all. Look at the systems by smaller companies, HORDES or WarMachine by Privateer Press is perfect for an MMO, a RTS or even adventure game. The possibilities are endless with the various IP. Plus the casual and intermediate systems, the collectable card games and board games like Talisman are being turned into Xbox Live and Sony Home games. Of course this is a two way road and we can expect to see tabletop companies license the more popular videogames and at the very least make a board game or collectable card game out of them. The cultures are starting to find things in common and we can expect a lot of back and forth influence.

An example of a merging of several cultures comes out in an old game called "Dust" by Paolo Parente. Dust is an alternate-Earth WWII game, a system that predates most of the other AE WWII titles I mentioned. The world of Dust established in several comic books with limited-edition 12" figures and models being offered for the game system. This is bringing in elements of toy and figure collectors, people that like Maschinen Krieger or Zero Metal Defense, plus tabletop gamers, comic book fans and exclusivity junkies. Some more information about Dust can be found on their old site. Perhaps this is an example of a person using the medium to get his art across or a person that sees the potential for synergy. Either way Paolo was ahead of his time but we can expect collaborations like this more in the future. Look at McFarlane's WoW figures for proof of this.

The designs featured in tabletop games will continue to influence videogame design. Did you really think that the designers behind God of War (or Gears of War for that matter) came up with the material all on their own? Movies, television, literature and tabletop games are all influencing factors here. The more you study art and design from the various systems the more you will see the influence and draw parallels between the tabletop and video game. The more savvy game designers get about tabletop systems, the more likely they are to begin to incorporate that design into their games. The influence to both the industry and culture has been around since the days of Zork and Zelda.

As for tabletop games themselves we can expect to see a few changes over the years. Judging by what Rackham and Fantasy Flight Games is currently doing and what Games Workshop has already done we can draw out the future. We'll see systems designed for ease of use as well as to attract new players. These hybrid systems will feature pre-painted minis some with clix-style bases and cards to keep track of stats. The cards will also be played as a stand-alone game. Collaborations between tabletop publishers and big game publishers, like Milton Bradley will start up again, these board games will be easy to play and act as an introduction to the hobby.

We should also expect to see a renaissance within the culture. The book industry feared that small press and desktop publishing would mean an end to the market. Yet book sales have never been bigger. Hollywood feared that VHD and DVD would kill the cinema, yet people still come out in record numbers to see summer blockbusters. By the same virtue the tabletop systems have not been replaced by videogames. If anything the latest round of MMO's have made people more aware of the tabletop (or analog if you prefer) counterparts. Small independent studios pop up every year with fantastic sculptors, a diversity of genres and watertight gaming systems. This forces the bigger companies to step up. A diversity of systems from new and old publishers should be expected along with a boost in quality. Perhaps Games Workshop will rethink out-of-print systems and modernize them, or at the very least license them for videogames. With the abundance of highly-talented sculptors, and those using computer modeling, advances in miniatures, terrain and accessories will happen sooner rather than later. This will include changes in paints and manufacturing which will mean for higher-quality products for reasonable prices. This will extend to pre-painted and traditional miniatures for beginning and advanced hobbyists as well as new board game designs.

The future is looking bright my friends. Tabletop systems are here to stay and they will only continue to improve and amaze. I really hope you are considering getting into the hobby or at the very least keeping tabs on these systems so that one day when you overhear some kids snickering about how Warhammer is biting WarCraft you too can set them straight. Be tolerant of your analog cousins that roll dice and move miniatures rather than right-click and deploy a group. After all, we are all gamers of one format or another.

I had fun writing this series and now look forward to returning to my regular videogame blogs tomorrow. I'll be sure to drop a link or two on tabletop games down the road. Until then take care and be sure to leave a comment or a thumbs up!

Tabletop Gaming: Part 17

Welcome back friends, I hope you had a great weekend. Today brings us one step closer to the end of this series. Let's start by saying that if you are interested in getting into the hobby then you are not alone. Beginning players will never be far from a community.

Even a Specialist Game like Blood Bowl still attracts new players from all over the world. Even if GW is slow in updating the system and players, there are fans updating the rules and making variations on the system. Blood Bowl Central is a repository for all sorts of info. When partnered up with the sites like Blood, the BB library and the NAF (Blood Bowl Federation) then you never are far from a game. Plus you'll find that other companies really dig the fantasy football format. Heresy Miniatures makes characters for a Blood Bowl contemporary known as Deathball. Impact Miniatures makes odds and ends for BB games plus sells bundle packs of non-GW minis. So if you are seriously considering getting into the hobby, there will always be a community willing to support you and your system! With that said let's take a look at these companies I missed.

Adiken makes a system called Nin-Gonost and even offers a self-conatined set with paints and miniatures. The system is progressive, with cards and templates to help you keep track of stats. The miniatures are okay but there's a reason I didn't post this self-contained system earlier. At one convention the people demoing the game were pretty rude to my brothers and I, so I didn't want to give them any free publicity here.

Give Amazon Fantasy a visit if you want to spice up the tabletop. This company has NSFW nekkid chicks and guns. Something that appeals to every man, especially that super-man Smashbro! The parent company, Amazon Miniatures makes ninjas, kung-fu fighters and historical minis as well.

FANS OF ANIME PAY ATTENTION! Anima is a very ambitious project. Edge Entertainment out of Spain is publishing and handling the RPG version, Cipher Studios LLC is creating the miniatures for the tabletop version (Anima Tactics) and Fantasy Flight Games is handling the collectible card game. I'm telling you they have their bases covered! The system is like a breath of fresh air. The designs are very much inspired by manga and anime, not western artists trying to copy a style, but actual Japanese art! Moreover the influence is not solely Japanese, but also Chinese and Korean as well! Visit the site and you'll see work reminiscent of the Magna Carta designs by Hyung Tae Kim.

Assassin Miniatures is a little company that makes original figures. They believe in the integrity of their work and only produce one run of each figure, so once they're out that's that.

Avatars of War is a one-man operation. Felix Paniagua is a sculptor for Privateer Press, on the side he makes some amazing figures. His elf, orc, goblin and dwarf "Avatars of War" could easily be heroes in Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

Cold War Miniatures makes minis for Stargate, yeah from the sci-fi TV series based on the movie. They also make some keen zombies. Keep the zombies in mind for a system I'll mention a few lines down.

Crystal Caste makes all sorts of goodies. Known mostly for their metallic and crystal dice, they also offer the miscellaneous things for the gamer, such as bags and tokens. They also make pre-painted minis in a variety of genres, from fantasy to western.

Dark Age is a system based on a hybrid of ideas. Magic versus science and swords versus guns. Their skirmish game is very straightforward and tight. Their miniatures are very macabre, featuring designs by the great Brom.

The name says it all. Discount Mini is the store you want to visit if you decide to pick up any of the minis or systems that I've been talking about these past few weeks.

Dragonblood Miniatures makes a handful of miniatures. Their work is made with the painter and collector in mind. People working on dioramas should give them a visit.

DragonRune Miniatures hasn't had a web update in years. Their miniatures are good but nothing spectacular. Felix Paniagua sculpted some of their minis years ago. Their small boxed sets are good for people looking for unique characters. Check their Komodons if you are playing characters for sea battles.

Dwarf Tales is a very small group (I think it's one or two Polish sculptors) that specializes in very nice dwarf figures. They have a keen eye for detail and make the types of designs that you wish Games Workshop would adopt (or buyout) into Warhammer. Like other small studios they don't work very fast but each release is highly anticipated.

Fantasy Flight Games licenses and publishes a number of systems. This includes board and card games for Warcraft, Marvel Super Heroes, Doom and Anima. Their biggest contribution and innovation to the world of tabletop gaming is in the game Descent. This game is a self-contained system using nice miniature sclupts, with easy-to-read cards and templates. The moveable tiles help it play like a board game more like a complex skirmish system. Fantasy Flight also makes expansion packs for Descent so it never becomes boring.

Fenryll is a French company that produces some quality minis. They make a version of just about every fantasy creature that's ever been written about. While not in the same league as Rackham, their miniatures are still good. Be sure to check out their buildings, chaos and dragon figures.

Freebooter Miniatures is a hodge-podge of different sculptors producing minis mostly for collectors and painters. Aly McVey has contributed some original work with them. Their minis are slightly larger than the 28mm standard but it's all-good considering the originality of the designs. Plus they have some of the best female sculpts around. Give them a look.

Gamezone Miniatures is small Spanish company whose crude website beguiles the quality of their work. Pound-for-pound these guys produce minis (especially horses and other mounts) that rival Rackham's. The detail is amazing and the design a perfect balance (or the bastard child) between Rackham and Games Workshop. These guys have a solid future but if their company were to partner up with Corvus Belli, makers of Infinity, then they'd be a powerful rival to the Rackham and GW.

Griffin Miniatures makes a handful of minis in the fantasy and sci fi realm. They are influenced by a variety of systems and companies. Their Harbinger figures and Alien Encounter figs are nice. The upcoming Cravid minis look very much like the Invid characters from the old Robotech cartoons. If you are thinking about getting into the hobby as a painter be sure to check them out.

Hell Dorado is an up-and-coming French skirmish system. I can't read much French but gathering from what the web translators say this skirmish game looks like conquistadors versus demons. The hook here being that there might be an animated short accompanying the launch of this system. Fans of Dark Age might want to check it when it gets translated into English.

Magister Militum should have been mentioned way back when I was talking about historical wargames. The sell rules for various systems and make a slew of miniatures as well. These people have a great distinction however. Traditional historical Chinese minis are published by other studios, but nobody has the A-Z of Chinese Fantasy characters that they make. This is a must-visit page for people that want unique minis.

Magnificent Egos makers of the world's biggest miniature rarely update their company page. At least they update their blog more often.

Maidenhead Miniatures is another NSFW amazon-themed company. Smashbro's amazon army will be quite impressive when he picks up the various chariot riders Maidenhead makes.

Mega Miniatures is a distributor for smaller mini makers. This means that you can often find any hero or monster that you're looking for plus all sorts of accessories and models to spruce up the table.

MSB Toys shares something in common with Magister Militum. They make fine resin minis of Chinese mythology including the classic Journey to the West characters. Be sure to check the totemic warriors from the Aazac range.

Pinnacle Ent. Group publishes a number of RPG games, possibly their most famous is Dead Lands. All of the games use the Savage Worlds system. I'm not going to open up the can of worms that is tabletop RPG games but I will plug 50 Fathoms because the mix of pirates, sea monsters and Cthulhu-like creatures makes for some pretty sweet miniatures.

I'm not even sure if Plaster Obsessions is still around or if their webpage is the only thing live. They make some inexpensive models of castles and towers to use for siege games and whatnot.

Pig Iron Productions makes some power-armor minis and tanks that are rough but stylish. They don't belong with any system so are perfect for collectors or people looking for unique models to shore up a modern or 40k scenario.

Of course I've been going on and on about games and paints and scenery but have yet to tell you a crucial bit of info. Most of these games require dice. Gale Force Nine and Crystal Caste make dice, but Q-Workshop specializes in dice. Don't be a rookie and actually get yourself some pimp dice for your games.

RAFM has been in business for years. They make a broad range of historical minis as well as those for fantasy and the Call of Cthulhu.

Reaper is a big name around these parts. They make great miniatures by the bucketful. If you can imagine the hero or monster then chances are they've made a mini for it. This goes for ass-kicking robots as well. Best of all their sculpts are clean and can slide right into any other companies system with ease.

Sabertooth Games is owned by Games Workshop and makes collectable card games. Aside from GW content, they hold popular licenses including Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Samurai Showdown and Soulcalibur. Best of all these cards have universal stats so if you want to play between Capcom, SNK and Namco characters (like an analog version of MUGEN) then you can!

Shadowforge is out of Australia. They make mostly women for various genres, lots of gratuitous boobs on their page... I know where Smashbro is going now... anyhow their minis are okay and they got lots of love for inventing Blood Bowl teams. Give them a visit if your army needs a few women characters.

Twilight Games is a standout company. PAY ATTENTION. They make a little game, scratch that, they make a KICK ASS GAME, titled ZOMBIES!!! It's slowly getting under the skins of my brothers and soon it will get under the skins of my friends... mark my words! The game is straightforward, survive a swarm of zombies. The expansion packs take you to the mall, a military base and college. It's the usual stuff for the genre but plenty of fun at a get-together.

Victory Force makes a number of soldiers for WWII. However they should get a visit for their Shirow-ish JC Figures, Victorybots that remind me of Project Grizzly , and Jon-Roh-ish New War minis.

Wyrd Miniatures is a small company that only makes a few minis. However their community is a melting pot of styles, be sure to go through their various contests to see some amazing entries.

Zombiesmith makes zombie miniatures, enough for a good sized mob. If your tabletop game needs taking over, he's the man, err, zombie to see.

There are some great pages with news and info for all your hobby needs. Miniature Wargaming, Tabletop Gaming News and the Miniatures Page are possibly the three biggest and most frequently updated sites. They let you know all the important release dates as well as drop tips, reviews and previews from the big and small companies.

That just about does it for the month and this series. I hope you found something to pique your interest and perhaps have a little more respect and understanding of the tabletop gaming community. Tomorrow I'll wrap everything up and try to figure out where the industry is headed. Be sure to come back!

Tabletop Gaming: Part 16

Today we talk about the most important part of the hobby. The assembly and painting of the miniatures themselves. It's almost shameful how many people play the games but never take that extra step in painting their models. Two pewter squads in a skirmish is a sad sight to behold. So don't become a lamer and learn the basics now! Hot Lead covers many of these basics so give them a visit. The good Dr. Faust runs the gamut of questions regarding paints and techniques. There are tons of useful links at Miniature so be sure to give them a visit as well.

There are also professional painters online that offer tips and sell painted miniatures. Fantastic painter Arjay hasn't updated his website in forever, that's not to say his art has faded with time. The same thing can be said about the Italians at Beltane studios or the Brits at Broken Blade. Be sure to peruse their galleries and be awed. The Jenova Project also hasn't been updated in forever but their forum is alive and well.

Chest of Colors is one of the best painting sites I've ever visited. One of the artists, Benathal, custom built and painted a Legio Custodes squad which are as good if not better than those put together by the best at Games Workshop. Zinnfiziert has a blog where he posts current projects, be sure to check it out. Witchhunter's site is just as keen and he posts plenty of pics from current and past projects. The Lone Brushman also has some great tutorials and a kick-ass gallery. Urb's World hasn't been updated in a while but his painting is solid, be sure to check him out too.

Some sites are dedicated to a specific company or line of miniatures. Brushthralls is a very active painting crew that create articles for Privateer Press. Of course their tips and techniques can be used on any miniature. The Daemonic Legion is a gathering place for fans of Chaos from Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Hive Fleet Moloch is dedicated to the Tyranid from Warhammer 40k.

Agis is a great site about painting and modeling. The webmaster Agis Neugebauer, goes to the trouble of writing details for the models and back story for systems you might not be familiar with. Be sure to check his painted HeroClix figures. Yes, they are already pre-painted, but if you go over the details again you can really bring characters like the Avengers to life.

Even though I've been hard on the Japanese these past few blogs there is hope for them yet! Qiao-Zhong is Chinese but lives in Japan and living proof that the Asians can produce very talented mini artisans. Check out the custom versions of the Emperor, pre-heresy Fulgrim, Jenetia Krole and pre-heresy Ahriman. They are amazing!

Of course most painters shouldn't mess with the French. If you are a young woman reading this series then please don't be discouraged by the lack of female names. Many of the best miniature painters and sculptors are women. Award-winners like Angela Imrie, Nathalia Melnik and Victoria Lamb prove that the hobby is not gender-specific. Plus even Mike McVey is humbled by the artistic ability of his wife Aly. So guys and girls, pick up a brush and see what you can do!

One of the best sites for everything mini is Cool Mini or Not. Like a hot or not, it's a place where you can vote on minis, enter competitions and keep and eye on auctions. Mini is also a keen site that reports the happenings in the community.

So what about the supplies themselves? Brushes, drills and glues can be picked up at most hobby stores. Of course if you are budget minded this is a tough hobby to last long in. The word of the day is acrylic. The majority of miniatures are painted with acrylics because they are water-based, mix, cover well and dry quickly. All of the big companies mix their own paints and sell them in crack-like quantities. Citadel Paints, Rackham Color and Privateer Press' P3 Colors are designed with the miniature gamer in mind. This is not to say there is anything wrong with the paints from big companies like Tamiya, Testors and Vallejo. People that have been in the hobby a long time will have paints from many different companies and readily mix their own colors in spare bottles. Since the paints are water-based, most can be diluted and mixed without fear of separation or blotching. But what if you really need to stretch your dollar for the hobby?

Apple Barrel is possibly the best-kept-secret in miniature painting. Plaid is a hobby company that makes a variety of products, but their acrylic paints are sold in larger bottles than most and are also inexpensive. Best of all you can find these paints at places like Michael's and Wal-Mart. Remember them if you're thinking of painting minis as a hobby rather than getting into the gaming aspect.

If you are building a large model or scenery for a game then it makes no sense to use up the thimble-sized acrylics. Instead swing by the Home Depot and look for their "oops paint." These are colors mixed by the gallon for special orders and either the person doesn't like the color or they never return to pick them up. Rather than throw the paints away the Home Depot sells them on the cheap. You can paint table-sized dioramas with these paints or ask them to mix up your own colors for cheaper than buying gallons of acrylic. This same paint could just as easily be used to repaint a room or prep a wall for graffiti. As for the paint brushes and tools like x-acto knives and clippers, just shop around. A set of paint brushes can be picked up for under $5 online. If you go to school then check with the art department and see if there are any stores in the neighborhood that give student discounts. Shop around and save the money for miniatures.

That does it for today. I hope there are enough links to get you interested in actually picking up some minis and paints. Tune in next week to learn about companies that I missed and systems you might want to check out.

Tabletop Gaming: Part 15

You've already seen how big models, like ships and buildings can spruce up any tabletop game. As they saying goes, the devil is in the details. Even something as simple as a felt map and a few plastic trees can add atmosphere to a table. In addition to building and painting miniatures, many hobbyists take the extra step to make scenery and terrain as well. The devil here is that many go to the trouble of sprucing up even the bases that the miniatures stand on. Groundforge modeled bases are great in that niche. Let me give you another A-Z on companies that can help you turn any table into a battlefield.

Felt mats are the easiest accessory to pick up for a game, they add character and texture to the environment, best of all they can be rolled away and stored with ease. Hotzmats makes some great maps with various prints, grids and hexes on them. They also offer mats with no grids on the backside for regular, ruler-based systems. Check out how much personality something like their western town mat can add to a few cardstock models.

While we're talking about cardstock modeling, be sure to look at Microtactix for their city buildings. Perfect for a HeroClix game, wouldn't you say? Die-hard tabeltop gamers may start their tabletop sets with cardstock, however like all serious hobbyists cardstock will never replace a resin or metal model. A good place to start for basic war and even wild west terrain and buildings would be Frontline Wargaming. As you can tell, a good chunk of the hobby is based in Europe, where many of the major events in the past 100 years have happened.

Models specifically for tabletop gaming can be as detailed as any hobby kit. These people have a catchy name and the models to match, Snapdragon Studio makes everything from bunkers to post-apocalyptic (Mad Max) scenery. They also make the little bits that make gaming fun, be sure to flip through their catalog. A contemporary, with some choice pieces and great buildings is the Miniature Building Authority. These people even make resin dumpsters and porta-pottys to add realism to games set in the modern world! Hovels Ltd. makes great building models for different eras and even in different scales, from 25mm to 1/300mm.

When it comes to sprucing up a tabletop battle with dozens of tiny details, like barrels, crates and stone ruins Fantascene is one of the best. Their gothic terrain is very, very good but their Eastern Ruins are impeccable. When it comes to quality Pardulon makes some highly-detailed resin kits. Their buildings are very european but the details, such as the blacksmith's fire would work anywhere from a fantasy to a western setting.

Kilroy has some unique items that you won't find elsewhere. So don't be put off by the unicorn-zebra and rose on the front page. Check out their fountains and crystals for fantasy and sci-fi games. Monolith Designs makes terrain for a variety of eras. Their Aztec line is great and superbly detailed, something that my pal Vince will love.

As far as sci-fi goes, Warhammer 40k specific, nobody can touch the terrain and accessories by Antenocitis Workshop. Check out their sci-fi range and prepare to drool. Yup, they work with LED and fiber optic cables on their more expensive sets. If you want to see how incredible a diorama using the various models would look then check out Kobblestone, the diorama authority.

Here's as good a place as any to remind you to visit Gale Force 9 for licensed terrain and accessories. But did you know that there is a company run by Games Workshop catering to die-hard modelers in the Warhammer and 40k universes? Forge World produces resin kits for veteran gamers. Resin allows for great detail in small and large models but costs a little more to produce. Forge World exists to save the reputation of Games Workshop and Citadel Miniatures. While other companies are stealing away talent and ideas, Forge World consistently comes up with amazing models that can go toe-to-toe with any other manufacturer, Rackham included. They make everything from tiny details to spruce up WH miniatures to massive tanks and aliens for 40k and are worth looking at if you are serious about getting into the hobby.

Games Workshop has gotten wise to players in need of great models so they have just started on brand new Warhammer Scenery. These models will be based on some very detailed buildings built by the best modelers at Citadel. Check out the models that inspired this release.

This isn't to say that Rackham has been sleeping. Very recently they have opened their resin wing (in Britain!) under the Fire Industries banner. The war between Games Workshop and Rackham for your hard-earned dollar just got more intense!

This wraps up the terrain and scenery feature but something has been bubbling in the back of my head. What good are all these miniatures if you don't know how to paint? Come back tomorrow for painting tips and useful links.

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Tabletop Gaming: Part 14

Welcome back friends! Now lets check out a plethora of things on my favorite genre, the old west. There are plenty of gaming systems for the wild west. Why shouldn't there be? The frontier mixed with the settlers. A gold rush, immigrants from the orient, cowboys, indians, Mexicans and train robbers! This was one of the most exiting periods in history, for some it's the equivalent of knights and damsels, real heroes and villains than gave rise to legends. As far as skirmish games go what more could you ask for? A six shooter, horse and posse, let's start the adventure!

One of the early systems and still a great one is titled Gunfight! and made by Flagship Games. They also created the samurai skirmish rules and pirate system mentioned in previous blogs. Just like their other systems they'd like you to think about getting miniatures from Redoubt Enterprise. Of course Redoubt doesn't make any cowboys but they do have some good Native Americans from the French-Indian Wars. They also make some boss Chinese fighters from the Boxer Rebellion. These miniatures can represent the early settlers (aka slaves) during the goldrush and also founding Tong gang members.

Another classic system is Cowboy Wars from West Wind. In the USA the system is distributed by Old Glory Miniatures. Of course you can also line your pockets with miniatures from Old Glory as well. Be sure to check out their club benefits if you are a fan of pirates.

Monday Knight Productions makes a skirmish game called Desperado. The company even makes some fine miniatures including natives, banditos and scenery to spruce up your games. Miniatures of injured characters always add personality to the tabletop, be sure to check those out. There is a French site dedicated to Legends of the Old West. Be sure to visit the page to get patterns that you can print up and use as period appropriate wallpaper and textures for model buildings.

The new kid on the block is Hawgleg. Their system, Gutshot, is proving to be a popular system due to its ease of use and open world adventures. They don't make miniatures but neither does Warhammer Historical. I've gotten all four books from Games Workshop's Legends of the Old West series and greatly approve of their system. Granted the fourth book was a bit slim and they could have doubled the content, but as a whole the skirmish rules are fun.

That just about covers all of the major systems. There are tons of RPG systems set in the west as well, but this blog series is about miniatures so tough luck if you think I'm telling you what they are. I will however give you the list of the other great west miniature companies.
Artizan's made my blog a few times already for their WWI-WWII and Thrilling Tales. Their Wild West line is exceptional! They also make time-appropriate cavalry, natives and banditos. Be sure to keep them in mind if you decide to get some minis.

Black Scorpion Miniatures makes some detailed minis under the Tombstone label. They also aren't afraid of making women with revolvers and rifles as well! The only downside is that they are in an oddball 32mm scale, making them appear a bit taller than every other miniature manufacturer I've named. Be sure to keep an eye out for the pirate figures they are working on.

Conquest is the absolute authority on native miniatures. Made mostly for the French-Indian War, the minis from the 500 Nations line would fit seamlessly in western campaigns.

Dixon Minis makes a great collection of cowboys in various dramatic poses. Their banditos are pretty good and their natives and cavalry are spot-on. Be sure to also give their injured characters a look.

Foundry is without a doubt the most shameless miniatures manufacturer ever. Not that it's a bad thing but after checking their Old West catalog you just might never visit another site for minis. The sets they offer are almost obscene, check out their massive hordes.

The Foundry even makes some cool Zombie Gunfighter sculpts. Speaking of fantastic western characters be sure to check Jeff Valent Studios miniatures for Great Rail Wars / Deadlands figures. GRW and Deadlands are an RPG system based in an alternate Earth where magic and guns collide... Steven King would be rolling in his grave!

If I were to recommend a one-stop shop then please visit Knuckleduster. They carry just about all the systems and miniatures you'll need including their own line. The guy that runs the site and store, Forrest Harris, is really amiable and makes some great suggestions for everything western. Bookmark the site if you're interested in these systems.

Before this blog wraps up I want to give you a hint for things yet to cover. If you visit Witchtown Tales you'll get a glimpse as to how these miniatures can work into a grander scale. Whitchtown is a fictional western town where skirmish games happen. The residents are made up from the various western models. The artist that put the site together, the Mad Painter drops in some subtle clues as to proper modeling techniques. Let's say you have a miniature that's 25mm and one that's 32mm but they are supposed to be closer in scale. He puts shorter figures on bases with rocks to make them appear taller. Pretty clever!

More sites on modeling and painted are coming up. As well as the companies that make very detailed terrain and buildings to go along with the minis. Here are a couple more links for you. If you are a budget-minded gamer then the cardstock Whitewash City is right up your alley. Holtzartworks does a really great job giving the models a classic feel.

Let's say you were made out of cash money and had plenty of space to set up a decent gaming table. Then you might want to think about getting real models from Arnica Real Estate. They make everything from banks and jails to tents and outhouses. Give them some serious consideration if you are getting into the hobby big time.

This about wraps up everything there is to know about the wild west and tabletop gaming. Now that I've given you a taste of modeling tune in tomorrow to learn how terrain and modeling can take a skirmish game to the next level!

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Tabletop Gaming: Part 13

Welcome back amigos, so have you started dropping your hard earned money on tabletop games yet? Hold onto those credit cards, there are plenty of more fun things to discover like everyone's favorite version of grand theft... piracy!!!

Until Games Workshop decides to develop a historical system based on pirates then best thing we have going, in terms of rules are those from Flagship Games. Their system is very fun and the world quite open. If you can imagine a Turkish fleet versus a Viking Fleet versus a Pirate fleet then it can happen! Semi-submersibles, gliders and even dirigibles are covered in their rules. Be sure to check their pirates store page for all of the boat models they make, they even make sea monsters! There are plenty of pirate miniatures to choose from but they prefer it if you do business with their good friends over at Redoubt Enterprises.

If you are looking for more pirate miniatures there are always dozens upon dozens available from the Foundry. They even sell a small, easy to construct Pirate Sloop for your table. If you need help building bigger ship models then you can always use the tips and templates provided by Games Workshop. GW even has hobby tips on painting sails. Dixon Miniatures also crafts some nicepirate minis. World Works Games has the best cardstock pirate ship you'll ever see, check out the Maiden of the High Seas. Also check their models for Skull Cove and Himmeivel Harbormaster. So if you are a fan of pirates and have wanted to get into tabletop gaming then you have no excuses.

But what about systems set in steampunk civilization or alternate history for that matter?

Brigade Models has a really tight niche going for itself. If you are a fan of flying ships then check out their Victorian-era system Aeronef. If however you wonder how turn-of-the-century space combat would have been then check out Iron Stars by Majestic 12 Games. Both systems are unique and relatively easy to set up.

Parroom Station works exclusively in a Victorian-era steampunk genre. They have a system that mirrors the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Imagine a world where robotic machinations meet War of the Worlds and you get a sense as to their systems. Be sure to check out their gallery and take a look at all the interesting characters.

For fans of old movie serials and high adventure, like Indiana Jones, there is one go-to system. Pulp Figures writes the rules for chisel jawed heroes and dames that can kill with a wink. Be sure to check their store for the various ranges of miniatures.

Artizan has a small selection of pirate miniatures. However nobody can touch their lineup of Thrilling Tale minis.

Brigade Games is a one-stop shop for minis and systems based on pulp-era action and high adventure. Their own Victorian system is called G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. for which they make miniatures in 28mm and 15mm. They also make or distribute some keen tanks and Sloppy Jalopy vehicles.

Copplestone Casting makes miniatures for High Adventure as well as publishes several skirmish rules. Just like Foundry's Masai tribe and Darkest Africa Explorers you can include miniatures from other Victorian periods to expand the world.

World War II is a favorite subject for alternate history, here are three systems that capture it best. Darkson Designs has a series titled Alternate Earth World War II. They make miniatures of mad scientists, soldiers, power armor and crazed experiments. Their skirmish rules can be downloaded right from their site for free.

Imagine a world where transforming vehicles were invented just before WWII. The axis and allies have some fantastic weapons in Gear Krieg. These include experimental tanks, jet planes and rocket fighters. Any system that has Nazi rocketmen and Tesla coil cannons is for me!

West Wind Productions has a system titled Secrets of the Third Reich. Which features science run amok, big tanks, Nazi zombies and early mecha. The system looks like fun.

I think I've covered the bases for today. From flying steamships to crazed Nazi's there should be a tabletop game for everyone. Be sure to come back tomorrow when I talk about one of my favorite genres, the wild west!